Is Facebook's New Jobs Feature for You?


Job searchers, there's a new player in town, and it's a pretty big one: Facebook. Last month, the social networking giant launched a new jobs feature on the site. Employers can now post jobs for free directly on their Facebook pages, and candidates can apply for those jobs by using Facebook's interface.


On the surface, it looks like an easy and straightforward way to get yourself into contention for jobs. Your application will be pre-populated with data from your Facebook page (including things like your name, city, state, email and phone number, but also your work experience and education) and you'll be asked to fill in a short-answer section on why you think you're a good candidate for the job.


Then, employers who receive your application this way and want to learn more about you can click a "view profile" link to see your public Facebook page. You and the employer can then use Facebook Messenger to communicate throughout the hiring process.


But before you start applying for jobs this way, there are potential downsides to consider.

Privacy issues. Savvy job candidates have spent the last decade locking down their Facebook profiles in order to have some privacy from employers, and so that they wouldn't be judged for what they do in their off hours. This new feature reverses all that, offering what's essentially an engraved invitation for employers to look at your Facebook profile. Do you want your Facebook profile being the first impression an employer has of you?


It's also important to note that the privacy issues run in both directions: If you add more details about your experience or education when applying for a job with the Facebook interface, that information will update on your Facebook profile, too. And that, of course, gives Facebook more information about you, as well.


Effectiveness. In most fields, the most effective job applications include a personalized cover letter and often a resume that's tailored to the position, too. You'll be giving up your ability to present a tailored application in exchange for ease of applying, and that's often not a trade-off worth making. If you're serious about a particular job, it makes sense to give yourself the best possible chance to get it, by creating the most effective resume and cover letter that you can.

Discrimination concerns. When Facebook pre-populates your application with information from your profile, it will include your profile photo. This is the kind of thing that makes smart employers nervous, because it raises the chances of discrimination based on race (which is illegal) or looks (which isn't illegal in the U.S. but is still bad hiring). And sure, the employer ultimately will see you in person if you get an interview, but opening the gate to discrimination right from the start puts candidates at a disadvantage. (It's true that LinkedIn profiles typically include photos, and that's a site explicitly intended for business use, but employers have to proactively seek out your photo there. The concern on Facebook is that your photo will be pushed to employers as part of your resume.)


The potential for discrimination extends beyond profile photos. If your Facebook profile indicates that you're involved in a particular religious organization, or a cancer support group, or a particular political cause, employers may now have easy access to that information, and decide based on it, as well.


Blurring of the professional and the personal. Thanks to texting and email and other technology, it's already hard for lots of people to get away from work when they come home. For the most part, though, Facebook has been a social networking site, while LinkedIn has been where you go for business networking. Injecting job applications into Facebook may blur the lines between private and work personas in a way that will further erode people's ability to carve out any space that's exclusively for friends and family.

But if you're intrigued by Facebook's new jobs feature, there might be a middle ground. You could use the feature to get information about jobs at companies you're interested in – and then apply through the company's website, which will let you benefit from the feature while still navigating around the concerns above.